Will theatres reopen after lockdown? Rules for the arts in tiers 1, 2 and 3 explained

Lizzie Edmonds
·2-min read
<p>Old Vic Theatre in London</p> (Old Vic Theatre)

Old Vic Theatre in London

(Old Vic Theatre)

After four weeks of lockdown, fans of live performance got some good news yesterday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that, under his new tighter pandemic restrictions, some theatres in select parts of England will be able to reopen from 2 December.

On the flip side, this of course means that many will have to stay closed - indefinitely.

Will your favourite venue be open this December? When will you know? And what social distancing measures might be in force?

Here is what we know.

<p>The Palladium in London</p>Andy Paradise

The Palladium in London

Andy Paradise

What is the new tier system and what does it mean?

Described by the government as a "tougher" version of the tier system implemented back in October, the new system consists of three tiers but the measures in each are stricter than before.

The original tier system was first announced back in September, with various restrictions in place depending on the rate of infection. Those zones of the country with a higher rate of infection have more stringent rules, whereas rules are eased in areas with fewer reported cases.

What tier is London in?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced London would be in Tier 2.

But many areas across the country were put in higher tiers than before lockdown.

What do the tiers mean for live performance?

Venues in tier one and tier two will be able to open from December 2 - but will still have to abide by social distancing and risk mitigation rules.

There will be capacity restrictions in place, meaning a maximum of either 50 per cent of full capacity or 1,000 audience members will be able to watch shows - whichever is the lowest. Temperature checks on arrival, wearing a mask throughout, one way systems in the building and hand sanitiser stations are also likely.

<p>Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden</p>

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

But any venue placed in tier three - the highest alert band - will not be able to stage shows in front of live audiences. Cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos will also remain closed.

Live-streamed productions will be permitted.

The tiers will be reviewed every two weeks. So this could mean a venue could slip down into tier two and therefore be able to open. But with little to no notice, that might be impossible for many venues.

Existing problems with theatres and music halls being able to make enough money with reduced capacity remain a big concern for those planning to put on a live performance this Christmas. It will inevitably mean many cannot afford to open their doors.

What other restrictions are there that might impact going to a live performance?

Alcohol can only be served in venues in tier 2 with a substantial meal. Meaning if you go to a concert or show you will likely not be able to have a drink while you enjoy the show.

Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said the changes to the coronavirus rules are a "huge blow for the live music industry".